SOCHI SCENE: Celebrating Sarah

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — There are some moments you simply cannot forget.

Standing in the crowd with Sarah Burke's parents on a magical night at the Olympics was one of those moments. Burke's dad, Gord, spent the evening soaking things in, reminiscing, talking about love and loss.

He shared the story about his dad's recent death, at age 96, and how he hasn't been able to truly mourn that loss because of the approach of the Olympics, his trip to Russia and his plans to celebrate seeing his daughter's vision come true.

Sarah Burke was the foremost advocate for women in freeskiing, and it was her effort that played the biggest role in bringing halfpipe skiing to the Olympics. The Canadian star died in a training accident two years ago. But she was everywhere Thursday night — the night of the women's ski halfpipe contest. "Celebrate Sarah" stickers dotted the signs in the stands. Many of the skiers wore snowflake-shaped necklaces; the snowflakes are shaped like the tattoo Burke had drawn on her foot.

"I get emotional sometimes," Gord Burke said. "It'll trigger, like, when I'm driving. But even those times, it's the pride. It's not that I miss her because I still have her in my head." It's hard living with a loss like this. Sarah was only 29. But as he looked around, shook hands and traded hugs with dozens of people who were there, quite simply, because his daughter made it so, Gord Burke knew it was not a time for sadness.

"Whether it's the athletes or coaches or people you've known for such a long time and get to reconnect with, everybody's like a big family and it feels good to get back to that," he said. "I feel like Sarah's left me with an incredible gift that way."

— By Eddie Pells — Twitter

Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter:

Related Headlines

  • SOCHI SCENE: Hannah's Heartbreaker

    Hannah Kearney toils in relative obscurity at women's moguls, where since the 2010 Olympics, she has positioned herself as the closest thing there is to a sure thing on snow. 

  • Burke's vision becomes a reality at Extreme Park

    A little more than four years ago, Sarah Burke was getting ready to watch the Olympics play out close to her home, wondering when her day under the rings might come. 

  • SOCHI SCENE: Happy landing for Brazil

    The tears started to come before Joselane Santos saw her score flash on the massive board next to the landing area during women's aerials qualifying on Friday. They didn't ... 

  • Sarah Burke's night; Maddie Bowman's gold in Sochi

    Sarah Burke's parents looked up the hill and saw the halfpipe workers making one last trip down in the formation of a heart. They looked the other direction and saw the ...